Students design cars the get 1000 MPG+

Jun 27, 2011 by Katie Gatto weblog

(PhysOrg.com) -- When you think about the design team for an ultra-fuel efficient vehicle, on that can get more than one thousand miles per gallon of gas; you probably picture a professional design lab outfitted with the most modern technology available and the best minds in the industry, not a group of school children.

Nevertheless, that is the case. A group of students in the United Kingdom pulled from regional schools and universities recently participated in the annual Mileage Marathon Challenge near Leicester, England. Though, many of the students did work on the prototypes with the help of design or engineering firms. The goal of the challenge is to create a vehicle with a new record in as mileage efficiency as the vehicles race around the track. The cars, which are allows the cars to coast some of the way, sets a minimum speed of 15 miles per hour.

Two of the cars came in at over 1000 miles per gallon. The winning of the competition has a recorded of about 1,980 miles per gallon and it was drive by Sam Chapman-Hill age 14. The car weighed about 100 pounds and was constructed primarily of plastics that were reinforced by glass. Another car, driven by an 11-year-old girl named Kitty Foster, reached 1,325 miles per gallon with a design that featured a Cambridge Design Partnership oxygen concentrator and micro-diesel engine along with some . The use of a GPS tracking system helped her to decide when to put the pedal to the metal and when to coast.

While no direct prototypes are likely to come out of the race and onto the production line they do give car manufacturers a lot to think about. After all, if an 11-year-old can design a car that is this fuel-efficient then why can't professional engineering and design teams come up with a car that can do better than 40 on the highway?

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User comments : 17

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61SD
3.6 / 5 (5) Jun 27, 2011
Firstly, congrats to the design teams that came up with these vehicles.

But maybe it's just my backwards american thinking, but what 11 year old kid is going to know squat about micro-diesel engines and GPS tracking systems. It seems to me that they nabbed the kids just so they could keep their gross weight down.

I'm not saying...I'm just saying.
FrankHerbert
0.9 / 5 (55) Jun 27, 2011
No, this is what happens when you have decent public education.
210
2 / 5 (6) Jun 27, 2011
Firstly, congrats to the design teams that came up with these vehicles.

But maybe it's just my backwards american thinking, but what 11 year old kid is going to know squat about micro-diesel engines and GPS tracking systems. It seems to me that they nabbed the kids just so they could keep their gross weight down.

I'm not saying...I'm just saying.

Indeed; For your insight and shrewdness let it be known throughout the cosmos and for time without end that thou art named and anointed, crowned and granted everlasting status as the peerless: Divine Speaker of The Extreme Obvious!
'nuff said
Javinator
4.8 / 5 (4) Jun 27, 2011
After all, if an 11-year-old can design a car that is this fuel-efficient then why can't professional engineering and design teams come up with a car that can do better than 40 miles per gallon on the highway?


Comparing the cars that were designed for this competition and cars that people use every day are like apples and oranges.

That being said, competitions like this are great for getting kids involved in science and engineering and making it fun for them.
J-n
3 / 5 (2) Jun 27, 2011
While yes, an 11year old probably can't design a car that does 1k mpg by themselves, i am assuming it was university students who did so, for free.

Now, one would think that in a Capitalist driven market like cars, one would think that the Financial Motivation of such a Capitalist market would spurn additional creativity in the Auto industry.

Sadly, it seems that the Auto Industry is not very motivated to give us cars with better gas mileage, reduced emissions, etc.

Eikka
3 / 5 (2) Jun 27, 2011
These kinds of competitions have been going on for decades, and 1000 MPG is no big feat.

The main issue is that the competition is just as much about taking advantage of the track as making an efficient car. The engines in these cars are designed to operate in pulses with the throttle wide open to reduce pumping losses etc. etc. and the track has uphill parts and downhill parts, which the drivers take advantage of by shutting down and disconnecting the engine from the drivetrain. They only turn on the engine for brief moments and basically coast most of the way. You could almost achieve the same by putting a hole at the back of the car and occasionally kicking it forward with a stick from the inside, except it is banned by the rules, along with things like "carving" where the driver shifts his weight in a slalom to gain momentum.

Without careful planning and skill from the driver, or a favorable track, these cars would most likely get similiar efficiency to a small moped.
Eikka
not rated yet Jun 27, 2011
For example, if the track was mostly level with long shallow climbs towards the end, and then a shorter downhill part to the finish line, the cars would have to keep their engines on most of the time at partial power to maintain speed, and their MPG would likely be a tenth of what they're doing now.

Here's one track profile for a mileage marathon track:

http://fmmc.kapsi...-l-b.jpg
nevdka
not rated yet Jun 27, 2011
After all, if an 11-year-old can design a car that is this fuel-efficient then why can't professional engineering and design teams come up with a car that can do better than 40 miles per gallon on the highway?


They can:

http://www.ford.c...site=FOA

75 MPG (3.1 l/100km) over ~2000 miles (3147km), they got 81 MPG (2.9 l/100km) over one 9-hour stretch.

What you can't get is a SUV with that fuel efficiency.
PS3
1 / 5 (1) Jun 27, 2011
That is not a car.
Decimatus
not rated yet Jun 28, 2011
I hear electric cars don't use gallons...
MarkyMark
3.7 / 5 (3) Jun 28, 2011
That is not a car.

Let me guess, a SUV driving American? To answer your amusing statement, it is a car! Just not an unnessasary inneficient death car known as an SUV.
Magnette
not rated yet Jun 28, 2011
The new Lexus CT200 Hybrid, average fuel consumption 68 mpg and that is a real car...four seater every day car just like the Ford.

Great mileage per gallon is achievable...the manufacturers are just really slow at it!
electric
not rated yet Jun 28, 2011
Two things:

1. A car the common person drives is about 30 times heavier than the one in the article. Weight is statistically the biggest determining factor to fuel economy.

2. Not enough of us would be willing to pay for a car that gets significantly better fuel economy. An obvious, but expensive way to reduce weight is the use of carbon fiber, which is very expensive.
Kozmik_Ray
not rated yet Jun 28, 2011
The way I understood it is the youngsters were helping the engineers and whoever. 11yr olds aren't designing here. Driving cuz they don't weigh much and top speed was........? So, the whole idea is still pretty cool sounding, how does this translate to the real world. Guy above said it. We are entering a new era, The(new)Carbon Age. Graphene,carbon fiber and composites,etc. This changes eveything. Why not take the carbon of pollution and make it your next consumer product. We CAN survive as a species. Carbon is very recyclable and very stable.
Vendicar_Decarian
3 / 5 (2) Jun 28, 2011
Too look at the criticism and hate directed at U.S. President Obama by Republicans for just thinking about upping the U.S. fleet average gas mileage to 58 mpg, and you would think that he had proposed that the world come to an end.

Clearly 58 mpg is easily achievable.
Sanescience
not rated yet Jul 03, 2011
It's easy to take swipes when one is ignorant about what all is *MANDATED* to be placed in a street legal vehicle now.

People want their cake and eat it to. Until the public supports standardization of bumper heights and non-professional weight limits significantly lower than they are now.

Otherwise vehicles become death traps on the road, much like motorcycles except without the driving between lanes of traffic. And even those don't get that kind of mileage.
Hengine
not rated yet Jul 10, 2011
The car was DESIGNED by an 11 year old? This article could do with more details and a spellcheck.

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